Choosing the Right Surgeon
Many people are not aware that any general surgeon can perform a number of cosmetic procedures. Just like a dentist is able to remove a tooth and does not have to be a dental surgeon to do this, a general surgeon or physician can also perform a number of cosmetic procedures, including surgery. The outcome of your procedure is greatly affected by the skills and qualifications of your surgeon. So selecting the right surgeon greatly increases your chance of getting the job done right the first time, and thus negates the need for corrective surgery which would put the body under increased stress and expose it once again to the risks and discomfort associated with surgery.
Below are some general guidelines to assist you with finding the best cosmetic surgeon for the procedure you have in mind. Please also do not hesitate to contact us at Clinic 360 if you have any questions that we might not have answered below, or if we can be of any further assistance.
Do Research & Ask Questions
Before undergoing any kind of cosmetic procedure, it is important to do some research. Knowing the right questions to ask can arm you with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. Any reputable clinic will have no trouble answering questions about the expertise of its surgeons, such as:
- How experienced is the surgeon?
- How many times in the past has the surgeon performed the specific procedure you are about to undergo?
- How recently has the surgeon performed this particular procedure?
- What type of accreditation does the surgeon have?
- What type of specialized training does the surgeon have, and when/where was he/she trained?
- What is the surgeon’s area of specialty?
- What are the potential risks associated with this type of procedure, and what is the surgeon’s experience with handling these?
It’s a good idea to write down any other questions you might have, and bring these with you as you visit the surgeon for consultation. This will help ensure all your concerns are appropriately addressed before making your decision. If anything is unclear, do not be afraid to ask. It is your body and your money, and you have a right to be fully informed.
Quality Before Price
While less reputable surgeons may offer cheaper prices, the success of your surgery largely depends on the expertise of the surgeon performing the procedure, so it is important to choose carefully. Cosmetic surgery is one area where quality should come before price. When it comes to your own body, there is no room for compromise.
Education & Up-to-date Training
Every doctor in Canada must be formally educated in a recognized university, completing both an undergraduate degree and a Doctorate of Medicine, as well as a period of residency during which the doctor receives “hands-on” experience and “real life” training. This is just the minimum level of training you can expect from an experienced doctor.
Training should be a lifelong process for any surgeon, and should include workshops, seminars, conferences, and professional training on new equipment. Techniques and technologies in the field of cosmetic surgery are constantly evolving, and great advances have been made in the last few years alone. A surgeon who is up to date with the latest research will be able to not only provide you with the best possible aesthetic result, but will also employ the techniques and tools which have proven to be the safest and most comfortable.
Look for surgeons who have provided training to other surgeons in the field, as this is a sign that they are trusted among peers in their area of specialty.
Experience & Specialization
It is important to know not only for how long a surgeon has been performing the specific type of procedure, but also how often the surgeon performs such procedures. A surgeon who performed the type of procedure you are looking for several years ago may not be regarded as favourably as one who has performed several procedures in the last week alone.
Surgeons who perform your specific procedure frequently, or even better - surgeons who perform these surgeries exclusively - are usually better choices as such procedures become almost second nature to them.
Accreditation is another way of measuring a surgeon’s qualifications, and is usually provided by a third party. An accredited surgeon is someone who has been evaluated and licensed to perform surgeries in a particular area of specialization, and whose training is up to date.
Membership with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (CPSO) is a good sign. In addition, you should look for someone with specialized training and experience within the field of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery, and further specialization within particular sub-sets of this field. In the case of delicate surgeries such as vaginoplasty or labiaplasty, you should for instance only allows a cosmetic surgeon who is also a specialist in gynaecological surgery operate on you. A membership in the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada would attest to his or her qualifications within this field.
Other examples of “specialized specialization” are one of Clinic 360’s cosmetic reconstructive surgeons who further specialize in reconstructive surgery involving the fine tissues, nerves and bones of the hands.
As you visit the clinics for consultations, pay extra attention to the walls in the surgeons’ offices. In general, the more diplomas and certificates you see, the better!
Ask for Photos
A responsible, experienced surgeon will be able to provide before and after photos from consenting patients, and will even be proud to show off evidence of his or her skill and mastery. Photos are also a good way to get a more concrete understanding of the kind of results to expect from your surgery. Look out for inconsistencies and scarring, and don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon, who should be able to explain any complications or extenuating circumstances, and give you confidence of his or her ability to adapt to the unexpected.
Most well-respected surgeons are sought after for their expertise, and as a result are hired in by hospitals. Sometimes they are called on to perform specialized surgical procedures which “nobody else can do”. This is a great sign that the surgeon is a well-respected specialist in the professional medical community. Within a hospital setting, emergency situations are quite common, as patients typically arrive with traumas and various urgent medical issues. These emergency situations involve compromised patients, and are hard to predict or schedule for. In some rare cases, this may cause a delay of a scheduled cosmetic procedure. Although inconvenient, most patients see it as a form of insurance that they are in good hands. The fact that the surgeon possesses specialized skills that are in demand at hospitals is a testament to the qualifications of the doctor. It also proves that the doctor is able to handle unforeseen situations, which - albeit rare - can also happen within a cosmetic clinic setting. So rather than looking for a surgeon who is always available, we in fact recommend that you do look for a doctor who holds hospital privileges, although this might mean that you run a slight risk of having your procedure delayed.
Trust Your Instincts
Ultimately, it is important to trust your instinct when it comes to selecting a good surgeon for your procedure. It is best to avoid surgeons who are pushy, evasive, or who make outrageous promises. Your surgeon will be available for a thorough consultation, during which he or she will describe the procedure in detail, assess your expectations, and explain any risks. This is also a good opportunity to visit the clinic and view the facilities where your surgery will take place. The surgeon you choose should be someone who puts you at ease, who is able to address your concerns and present you with all the information you need, and whose knowledge and expertise you feel you can trust.
Some patients also choose to search online for reviews about their surgeon. While this can be a great source of information, we caution patients to take the information with a grain of salt. It is a known fact that some clinics post “fake” positive reviews for their own clinic. Negative reviews should also not be given too much weight, or at least not seen as indicative of the majority of procedures performed by the surgeon, as patients whom have had a negative experience are more motivated to “vent” on such forums; it’s human psychology. So by all means, do check out reviews, but use your good judgement to assess whether the information is correct. Balanced reviews where both positive and negative aspects of the experience are described, and where photos are included, are more credible than one-sided positive or negative reviews.